Andhra, Chhattisgarh, Karnataka top Christian Persecution in 2013 - 151 cases of anti-Christian violence; churches, pastors, women attacked
Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Karnataka top the list of Indian states in which Christians faced incidents of targeted communal violence in the year 2013, according to data collected by Evangelical Fellowship state offices.
Women, rural pastors and home churches were the main targets of mobs, which were often led by members of the Sangh Parivar. Police impunity resulted in most culprits going unpunished.
As many as 151 incidents of anti-Christian violence were reported in the year, with Andhra Pradesh registering 41 cases, Chhattisgarh 28 and Karnataka 27.
Rev. Dr. Richard Howell, the General Secretary of the Evangelical Fellowship of India and Religious Liberty Commission Secretary, Rev. Vijayesh Lal, released the list on anti Christian violence in India in 2013, at a press conference In New Delhi on Tuesday, 18 March 2014.
This list does not include large numbers of cases reported from Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Rajasthan, which could not be immediately verified as being motivated by religious prejudice. These include at least three cases of murder, including one of a child of a pastor in Rajasthan.
The EFI has also received a very large number of complaints of structural and institutional violence from Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand and Gujarat. Most of these pertain to Tribals being deprived of their land if they convert to Christianity.
In Gujarat, the computerized registration systems have been so engineered that Tribals have mandatorily to fill their religion as Hindu. This is in violation of the Constitutional provisions for Scheduled Tribes. The matter is to be taken to the High courts of the respective states.
The most shocking aspect of the anti Christian violence is the targeting of women. In one horrendous case on 12th September 2013, a Christian woman, Sanamma, a helper in Anganwadi School was caught by a mob of 40 people when she was inviting children to join the school after the summer break. The mob accused her of forceful conversion, beat her up severely and took her to a temple where they poured water on her as a form of religious cleansing and thereafter applied "kumkum" on her forehead, a sign of Hindu married woman. Local Christians rescued her later and took her to a hospital for treatment.
In another case in Taragoan, Lohandiguda, Hindutva extremist activists forcefully took a Christian widow to the temple and tried to sacrifice her to the idols. Her daughter and relatives rescued the widow.
The Evangelical Fellowship, in association with other Church groups, has consistently demanded that the Central government enact suitable legislation to end communal and targeted violence. We had hoped that Parliament would pass the Prevention of Communal and Targeted Violence Bill in the last session. It did not happen. We hope that the government formed after the 2014 General elections will take it up in earnest.
Read the full report.
Rev. Dr. Richard Howell,
Evangelical Fellowship of India
New Delhi, India
The Evangelical Fellowship of India is a national alliance of churches and Christian non-profit organisations. It represents the interests of over 35,000 churches across India and is a voice to the governments and media. Established in 1951, EFI is a charter member of the World Evangelical Alliance, a non-profit organisation with special consultative status with the United Nation.